Ultimately, it was the episode’s strong start that led to its eventual downfall. Hosted by Jimmy Fallon – and it appeared in the beginning that it would be co-hosted by musical guest Justin Timberlake – tonight’s episode was front loaded with some great cameos and old favourites. Paul McCartney, Madonna and Barry Gibb were on before Update. Unfortunately, save for one sketch, the post-Update portion of the show was forgettable.
I tried to have realistic expectations for tonight’s Saturday Night Live, but what an exciting pairing Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake were. The two are no strangers to SNL or to each other. Timberlake promoted his album on Fallon’s show for a full week when it was released in the spring. Timberlake and Fallon have done four History of Rap videos. Fallon is a SNL alumnus, hosting for the second time since he left the show. He’s getting ready to take over The Tonight Show in February. Timberlake has hosted five times. It had the makings of a new classic episode.
It was also announced that Drake will host the first SNL episode of 2014 on Jan. 18, when he will also serve as the musical guest. Here is my sketch-by-sketch recap of tonight’s episode.
That didn’t take long. Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon are here to rain on Aidy Bryant’s parade. She’s trying to collect money for a skating rink, but those street performers from Wrappinville are going to steal her thunder. SNL wasted no time getting Justin Timberlake, who’s supposed to be the musical guest, out here. He was joined shortly after by Fallon and the two did a short History of Rap-type medley of songs. This was kind of a stunt sketch. It was neat to see Timberlake and Fallon right off the bat, but it tried to distract from the fact that the sketch went nowhere. Yeah, Timberlake and Fallon are great at this stuff, but it didn’t really evolve from the gimmick of them rapping in their silly costumes.
Another musical monologue?! Jimmy Fallon wants to perform with three of his favourite musicians, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and David Bowie. But they couldn’t make it, Fallon laments. So he impersonates them singing “Joy to the World.” It’s cute and Fallon is great at impressions … Then Paul McCartney shows up and they sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” It’s the Christmas episode, everyone. Not much else going on here.
Family Feud Celebrity Edition
Highlights: Jimmy Fallon as Jim Parsons, Taran Killam as Ashton Kutcher (OMG), Jay Pharoah as Ice-T, John Milhiser as Jon Cryer. Jimmy Fallon impersonated Jimmy Fallon in the episode hosted by Jimmy Fallon. It was so strange, but Timberlake kinda really did it for me. And he should know, he’s on Fallon Late Night 100 times a year. The impressions were very, very funny, especially Killam’s of Kutcher. But the sketch was just OK.
“(Do It On My) Twin Bed” *** Editor’s pick ***
“You can’t be picky, when you’re staying with your family.” A song by the SNL women on the compromises you have to make if you’re gonna invite your boyfriend to Christmas at your parents’ house and take him to your childhood bedroom.
Click on any of the photos below to launch the gif gallery (via nbcsnl.tumblr.com):
Barry Gibb Talk Show
Least surprising sketch ever. Guests: Megyn Kelly (Cecily Strong), Paul Ryan (Taran Killam) and Madonna (the real Madonna!). It’s like they went through everything they could do, and what everyone expected and did it. BUT! They also took everything that worked when it was done in moderation (Jimmy’s Barry Gibb losing it on his guests, Timberlake’s Robin Gibb’s falsetto) and just went overboard with it. They didn’t bother doing anything around the outbursts and tantrums. Fun to watch, because tonight’s basically been a trip down memory lane, but not much else.
Justin Timberlake – “Only When I Walk Away”
One of the drawbacks of Justin Timberlake being a musical guest in December 2013 is that, of course, he will sing something off Part 2 of The 20/20 Experience. The first song is “Only When I Walk Away.” Timberlake is a gifted vocalist and dancer, but you couldn’t tell by watching him here. The laser show was cool?
Seth Meyers’ last hurrah (or is it?) at the Update desk is bittersweet. He had great material, but he also didn’t have a formal goodbye. There was talk earlier this season that he would stay on for the rest of the year since Late Night would only be on Mondays through Thursdays. There was a passing of the torch on Update when Fallon came out and said he’s happy Meyers is taking over Late Night and they reminisced on Fallon calling Meyers “Little Seth” when he first came on Update. The real highlight was the appearance by New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who’s keeping his future options open: “President, pope, naked cowboy.”
Waking up with Kimye
Again? Nasim Pedrad and Jay Pharoah reprise their Kim Karashian and Kanye West impressions for the second time this season. They’re both great, and their impressions are good, but I wish they were given more chances to be on the show. This sketch wasn’t very funny this time around. There was a “Bound 2” parody with Kim and Kanye on a reindeer. It just seems so dated at this point.
Now That’s What I Call Christmas
This episode is really heavy on impressions. It would be fine if there was a bit of substance behind them, but the punchlines are just the impressions/imitations themselves. This pre-recorded sketch is for a compilation CD of Christmas songs by a variety of artists. Highlights include Kate McKinnon as Shakira and Cecily Strong as Alanis Morissette. Jay Pharoah’s DMX is quite good, and Jimmy Fallon’s Alan Rickman made me chuckle.
A Christmas Carol
A one-joke sketch about a closeted Ebenezer Scrooge. See, the ghost shows Scrooge that he’s unhappy because he was never honest with himself.
“Baby, It’s Warm Outside” *** Editor’s pick ***
A parody of the famous song with Jimmy Fallon and Cecily Strong spending a night together, and Fallon trying to get Strong to go home. It was sweet and by far the best post-Update sketch.
Justin Timberlake – “Pair of Wings”
He’s going to keep singing songs off Part 2 of The 20/20 Experience even if we hate them, so we might as well get used to this.
Drake hosts the next new episode and the first of 2014 on Jan. 18. He’ll also be the musical guest.